Monday, 29 December 2008

My lovely sister!


I have had such a lovely Christmas with my family - it was exactly as it should have been. Everyone enjoyed it, we had lots of fresh air walking the dogs - Ted and Fliss's family dog, Murphy, the labradoodle - lots of laughing and just the right amount of eating and drinking.
I was very sad when everyone headed back to Yorkshire yesterday, well everyone apart from Emily who is still here with Michael so we're still having fun, although it is rather quieter.
Ted had a ball and, thanks to Vince's magic touch, was actually very good....and he has added to his harem!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Two important people

Two important people also need thanking for making 'Extremely Very....' look so great: Joe Baglow and Christine Lacey.

Joe is our fab illustrator and I think it was fate that he found us and became part of the Schnoops family. He is an art student; one of Ian's friends in Leigh-On-Sea had taught him and suggested that he might be just right for our project. We wanted someone whose style is loose and quirky so we sent him briefs for each character and...his illustrations came back and were absolutely bang on! And the strange thing is that we've only met him once. For twenty minutes! But everyone seems to love his work as much as we do so big cheers to you Joe!

Now I know that I've mentioned Chris in the past and I'm sure I will again because she is one of my dearest friends. But her design skills turned a flat manuscript into a lively, funny book. And, I'm still blown away by the fact that she designed some bookmarks for me one Friday and I had them in my hand the following Wednesday ...she works fast does Chris! So massive hugs to her, we couldn't have done it without you!

Oh and can I just say a big thank you too (crikey this is getting to be like an Oscar acceptance speech!) to Robert for supplying bags of reassurance,for being a sounding-board and for never telling me to 'Shut up' even though he must have wanted to. And of course for putting up with me when I was being a cow. And finally to Jennie for letting me rant on in virtual style and for being supportive and making me laugh - lots.

So a big thank you to them and a big Happy Christmas to you all!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

At Last!

Great whooping and celebrations all round! I can finally FINALLY hold in my hand a copy of 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs: Playing The Road Trip Game'. There have been many times when I thought this day would never come, for many different reasons.
3 years is a long LONG time to take over writing something and very unusual for me as I tend to write very quickly. It seems like a lifetime ago that Ian and I sat in 'The Spencer Arms' in Putney and discussed working together on a project based on his basic ideas for some characters. Oh the hours and hours of writing and discussing and drinking coffee and peppermint tea, wine and champagne (I DESERVED it!) And the hours and hours and HOURS I have spent writing and rewriting and then completely rewriting again. And although this is a joint project I was the only one of us who could do the hours and hours of stressing on my own...and oh the twists and turns to get here.
But we did it....and I am so very proud!
AND my family should be arriving from Yorkshire very soon so we can have a proper celebration....I think a few corks will be a-popping in Wimbledon tonight!

One very blatant plug coming up:

And another:

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


I don't really believe in horoscopes (or horrorscopes as Little Doogs calls them), but yet I look at mine most days. I'm a Leo which means I'm supposed to be generous, loyal and love being the centre of attention. Well I hope the first two qualities are true but I'm not sure about that last one! Leos are also supposed to be 'fixed' signs. And I suppose in so far as I don't like change then that is very true.

If you ask me what are the most important things in life I would say without a moment's hesitation: 'friends and family'. And as far as friendships go I really don't want them to change. But they do.

This year some of my friendships have become a bit looser, some have been tested to the limit but have survived - weaker or stronger? I don't know yet, but different that's for sure. But some of my older friendships have grown from strength to strength even though we don't see each other. And thanks to the magic of Facebook I've met new friends who otherwise I couldn't have hoped to have met.

So maybe I should learn to embrace change and go with the flow. What I do want is for all the friendships I have in place now to be 'fixed' for a long time

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Retail therapy!

Robert was out for a Christmas lunch so I headed to the village to do some Christmas shopping. Unfortunately most of what I bought was for myself. But it was in the sale, so that was OK.

I was trying stuff on and came out to ask the assistant's advice, you know the kind of thing,
"Does my bum look big in this?" etc
And that's not always a wise move because they usually say,
"No of course not, but you'd look good in this and have you tried that and what about this belt with that cardigan...."
and you end up with a whole heap of stuff you don't really want to try on.

When I went back into my little changing thing I heard the woman next door asking for the dress I had on in her size. I came out again in a different dress and the same thing happened. Flattering, but odd. I didn't look fantastic in what I had on by any means....but apparently I looked happy and confident and would have a lot of fun whilst I was wearing them!

Did I buy them? You can bet your life I did!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Christmas spirit

It's funny but this year I am swinging wildly between being as excited about Christmas as though I was a child, and being all 'bah humbug!' about it. Today I've experienced both things, which is rather unsettling.

This morning we went to choose the tree which is always the real start of Christmas. We had the whole measuring thing to make sure it was tall enough, the looking at about 5 different ones to make sure it wasn't too spindly or too bushy, the man netting it all up, the inevitable 'shall we just have another look just to make sure' and the deciding on the one we looked at to start with. This year we also had the 'tree falling on Fiona's head' and the 'Robert tripping over a trunk' shenanigans! Oh happy days!

We then went to a big out of town M&S to look for various bits, expecting it to be at least a bit buzzy but it was so quiet it was as though a disaster had befallen Merton and no-one had told us. And that made me sad too...nowhere seems as happy as it usually does at this time of year.

I am so looking forward to my family coming down from Yorkshire as it's the first time we've spent Christmas all together. But before then there's 'Extremely Very...' coming out which IS exciting, VERY exciting, but I still have that sense of panic - are we doing enough to direct traffic to (shameless plug) because if people don't go there then it could all go horribly wrong.

What I need, I know, is a little faith, a bit of confidence. And a very large glass of champagne!

Friday, 5 December 2008


I went to badge test for the local Brownie pack yesterday. As well as testing the Booklover badge I also test the Hostess badge - that's the nice one with the cups of tea and the cakes. Unfortunately as I was doing the 2 together (multi-tasking) the girls forgot about me and although I did get a late cup of coffee I missed out on the goodies, which was a bit sad as there looked to be some nice crunchy-cakey stuff with Smarties on top. And you can't beat a cake with Smarties on the top, can you?

I've been testing the Booklover badge for 6/7 years now. In previous years almost all the girls were reading Jaqueline Wilson and J.K. Rowling. This year every single girl had chosen an Enid Blyton book as one of their favourites, which got me thinking, in a Carrie Bradshaw-type way:What has happened to give Enid such a resurgence? Is the innocent unchallenging idyll which her books represent an antidote to the ever-present restrictions and pressures surrounding children of today?(And do the publishing companies plough back the inevitable profits gained into supporting and encouraging new writers?)Enid Blyton is very very easy to knock - I must confess that I'm not a big fan - but you have to admit that if her books are still being read and loved after so many years, she must have done something right!

Anyway, back to my badge-testing. I was introduced as a 'proper author' and it was gratifying how many of the girls had read some of the 'Sleepover Club' books. (Note to HarperCollins: why did you end the series? Bring it back - please!)
As I'd finished testing each one I signed a copy of a slightly out-dated 'Little Book of Chat'. They were all fascinated by my appalling signature and one of them asked,
"Is that what you do then, write children's books?"
"Wow! Are you famous?"
Me, laughing: "No!"
To which another Brownie replied, earnestly,
"Well to some people you are!"
Have I told you how much I love children? Especially little Brownie-uniform-clad children!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Just lately I seem to have been defending my corner a lot when it comes to writing children's books. It's amazing how many people tell me they're going to write one - when they have a spare 5 minutes. And they usually also tell me that they won't tell me what the story is about in case I steal their idea! Well thanks for that.

But writing for children, as well as being so very rewarding, is a bit harder than it appears. Every word has to count. Every word has to be just the right one for the story, for the reader, for me...which is probably why I tend to over-analyse what people say. Words are my currency. The hardest job, but surely the most satisfying, is getting those children who struggle a bit with reading, who don't find it easy, to read a story which is fulfilling and exciting for them and which, though a challenge, makes them want to read more books.

That's a challenge I intend to rise to in future.

Writing is a brilliant job, and I love it, really really love it. I'm not sure my books change people's lives though.

Ted is struggling a bit with his hips at the moment and today we took him to Greyfriars for his hydrotherapy. The therapists there really do change lives - for the dogs and for the owners. I'm always a bit in awe of what goes on, but I love going as much as Ted does because the therapists are so lovely and funny...and reassuring. So thank you Lisa and Kim....and everybody else, where would we be without you?

Monday, 1 December 2008

Ted's women!

Ted is very fond of our female friends and is quite happy to pose with them! That's the fabulous Stephie on the left and the very wonderful Chris on the right.

I think Ted is paying for his over-amorous behaviour now as his hips seem particularly bad and he's been very subdued since he came back from being groomed. He looks gorgeous but...poor Ted, I feel so sad for him.


One of Jules' friends once dubbed us ODFs - Oldest Dearest Friends. I think he was trying to be sarcastic but the term has stuck. I don't see her nearly as much as I should but she's always the first person I turn to when I need a shoulder to cry on. She always cheers me up and I hope I do the same for her.

There were no wet shoulders this weekend though when she and Adrian came to stay. We had such a great time - talking, shopping, eating and drinking - the only problem was that it sped by all too quickly.

Adrian proved to be something of a dog whisperer, managing to calm down Ted with a spot of massage. Unfortunately it didn't quite work when Jules was around and Ted spent most of the time humping her leg. Strangely enough she found that the way to cure him was to get down on all-fours....I know, don't ask. Consequently every time she came in the house we all yelled,
"On your knees!"
Oh we know how to live here in Wimbledon!